No-one could really have expected just how dominant Simon Hill would turn out to be in the 2019 Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship, but when the 20-strong field turned up to a murky Silverstone for the opening rounds, they soon got an idea very quickly. Converting a front row start in Race 1 to the lead and the win, Hill went on to claim both races wins in the Mk5 class from defending champion James Colbourne and old pal Martyn Walsh on both occasions. This, in turn, would set the tone for the season ahead…

Full season rookie Simon Vercoe stuck it on pole at Croft, but it was Walsh that would took his first win of the season ahead of Hill and John Mawdsley, before Hill took his 3rd win in Race 2 ahead of Colbourne and Mawdsley. Vercoe would make his mark at the next rounds at Anglesey with pole, but in mixed conditions had to follow Hill home in all three races, with Colbourne collecting a trio of 3rd places. Hill survived a hairy moment in Race 1 at Snetterton, flying off the road at Coram but driving back through from 5th to win both races that day, as Colbourne, Hance and Beale share podium honours.

As the championship headed to Donington Park for the penultimate weekend, Hill’s rivals had seemingly caught up somewhat and he only won both races by less than a second. The finale at Brands Hatch saw Hill drop back in Race 1 with a mechanical issue, but finishing was enough to score the points needed to clinch the Mk5 crown, sitting out the final race to assure his championship status, while Vercoe and Walsh took wins for themselves.

Over in the Mk2 class, defending champion Tim Hartland had a tough start to 2019 as Silverstone left him 4th and 2nd while double champ Chris Webb and Matthew Eccles took the victory spoils. Croft and Anglesey saw Hartland pick up four wins to thrust himself back into title contention, while his key rivals Webb and Pete Milne kept on his tail throughout, the latter even picking up the one win that Hartland missed. Hartland’s run of form continued by dominating Snetterton ahead of Webb and Luke Haberman, but Webb kept his championship hopes alive by fighting back at Donington Park to collect a brace for himself, creating a showdown at Brands Hatch between the two.

At Brands, a wayward Hartland struggled round in the first race to make the flag in 4th, putting one hand on the title as Webb and Milne battled for the win, but Tim managed to battle back to 2nd place behind Milne in the final race to confirm him as a two-time Mk2 class champion. There’s a chance that all three may make a switch to Mk5s in 2020, so watching them continue their battles in more contemporary machinery would be very interesting!

Scott Woodwiss


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